The Slack backlash, which began last year and seems to be intensifying, was perhaps always inevitable.
Slack, a group-chat platform designed for business communications, has been a media darling for several years now. It’s valued at some $4 billion, an astounding sum, even for Silicon Valley. And, full-disclosure, I’m squarely among the throng of reporters who have praised Slack in my work. Here at The Atlantic, we started using Slack in 2014; just on the tech team, at first, before expanding it across the newsroom. Back then, Slack had about 100,000 daily users. Today, it has nearly 3 million.
It is not an exaggeration to say, as I often have, that Slack has been transformative for the way I work. I love that it enables me to ignore email (up to a point) and focus just on reporting, writing, and communicating with colleagues. I love it as a place for brainstorming story ideas. I love that I can go for a stroll outside in the afternoon and still be connected to the office.
But Slack is not for everyone. Some people dislike the platform because it’s conceptually like an old-school IRC without being an open protocol. Others have complained that Slack isn’t actually an email-killer, as so many have claimed, but just another thing to keep up with on top of email. (The Slack detox, in the grand tradition of people’s fraught relationships with the digital tools they use most, is officially A Thing.)
I know it's cool to hate on email but sometimes I wake up to 176 Slack notifications and think pls pls condense this into a coherent email— Lauren Goode (@LaurenGoode) August 25, 2015
Dave Teare, the founder of the tech firm AgileBits, wrote a blog post on Tuesday about his decision to swap out Slack for Basecamp, another popular project-management tool. For Teare, Slack was having a negative impact on workplace culture—and, on a personal level, it was stressing him out.